"They're coming back to the motel tonight. If I don't deliver it, I'm dead. And then they're going to go after my family."
"What'd you do to piss off the mafia?" I ask, chancing a glance at her. I'm well aware of how she pissed off the bratva. Did she break into the mafia's compound as well?
She doesn't seem like the type to break rules—lie, steal, and cheat her way out of trouble. Or, in some cases, into trouble. I can't put my finger on it, but she seems like she's fallen into this by accident.
"There's something at the house, in Aleksandra's old bedroom." Lucy frowns, her brow knit. "I didn't understand her request, but she said she wanted a picture hanging on the wall."
"And you planned on snatching the photograph and jumping back over the fence with it?" I swear I've heard it all. The girl continues to amuse me, which is troublesome, considering what she's being forced to do.
"I didn't have a plan," Lucy whispers, glancing at me. "If I don't deliver the painting, I'm as good as dead."
I turn the vehicle around, and we head back in the direction of the compound. I don't trust that the Italians won't send someone else, even if Lucy winds up dead at their hands. If they want something from our home, they're not going to stop until they've gotten what they desire.
But a painting?
"Show me what you're supposed to deliver." I want her to point out the picture, the frame, whatever Aleksandra wants. It has nothing to do with the artwork or décor. And I need to inform Mikhail about the news and running into his sister.
"I will. Does that mean that you'll help me?" Her eyes are wide and bright, doe-like.
I don't make any promises. "What got you into this mess, indebted to the Italians?" What could she have possibly done to make her a target? Did she steal from them?
"I was at the park with Zion. He was playing on the swings, and this woman was sitting beside me on the bench. We barely spoke two words to each other, and before I knew it, she got up to walk away and left her phone behind, along with a bag that she had placed under the bench."
"Let me guess; there was money in the bag?" I ask.
"How'd you know?"
I don't answer her question. "Was it the same girl who grabbed you today?" I can't imagine Aleksandra would be behind threatening Lucy and her son.
"No, but she was there when the man threatened my son. She tried to intervene on my behalf, but he wouldn't listen to her. She insisted that all would be forgotten if I retrieve the painting."
"What'd you do with the money and the phone?"
"They followed me, picked me up in a black SUV, searched my wallet for my address, and then threatened to kill my son if I didn't do exactly as they instructed."
I have two options: drop Lucy off at the motel or bring her back to the compound.
Mikhail won't be thrilled, but I head in the direction of the compound. I pull up to the gate and Anton grants us entrance inside, opening the metal fence.
"We're back here?" her voice squeaks.
I glance in her direction.
She's fidgeting with her hands. Her complexion is ghastly.
"If you're going to throw up, open the door," I say. She must be nervous, coming back to the compound after I imprisoned her yesterday.
"I'm not going to be sick." The color hasn't returned to her cheeks. She rolls her lips together and glances at me as she shifts on her seat.
Everything screams that she's uncomfortable, but I can't leave her in the pickup truck. She might bolt and jump the fence again.
"What are we doing here?" she asks.
I pull up to the front entrance, put the pickup truck in park, and shut off the engine. "I need to speak with Mikhail."
"Can I wait here?"
"No. Come inside, grab something to eat while I handle the boss." I yank open the door handle and climb out, coming around to help Lucy out of the vehicle.
She's already out and standing by the passenger door with her hands on her hips. "I'm not going back to the basement dungeon."
"Good. Don't do anything stupid that will make me escort you downstairs." I lead her up the stairs on the porch and through the main foyer. Lucy follows a few steps behind me, and I wait for her to enter before I shut and lock the door, securing the compound.
Luka's heading down the hall and stops mid-stride when his gaze lands on Lucy. "She's back." He's not the least bit quiet with his remark.
"Is Mikhail around?" I ask, expecting that Luka may know where the boss is and what he's up to at the moment. He rarely spends any time in his office.
"He took Kira to the doctor with Madisyn. I'd expect him back any minute."
"Is everything okay?" I hadn't realized Kira was sick.
"She's fine. Unlike the prisoner you brought back into Mikhail's home. What's she doing here?" Luka asks, pinning Lucy with his stare. He's not happy to see her, and Mikhail will be even more unpleased with her appearance.
"She has information that Mikhail will want to hear, about his sister."
"I doubt that will make his day," Luka says. "I'll do myself a favor and steer clear of him this afternoon. Good luck." He heads down the hallway in the opposite direction of the stairwell.
"Come on. I want to see what you're supposed to bring to the Italians." I escort Lucy up the stairwell to what had previously been Aleksandra's bedroom. It's vacant. The dresser is still pushed up against the wall, the curtains drawn. I flip on the light and study each painting on the wall.
Nothing appears out of the ordinary at first glance.